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The Ruby Programming Language Paperback – Feb 4 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (Feb. 4 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596516177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596516178
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.3 x 23.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #67,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

David Flanagan is a computer programmer who spends most of his time writing about JavaScript and Java. His books with O'Reilly include JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, JavaScript Pocket Reference, Java in a Nutshell, Java Examples in a Nutshell, and Java Foundation Classes in a Nutshell. David has a degree in computer science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives with his wife and children in the U.S. Pacific Northwest bewteen the cities of Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia. David has a blog at

Yukihiro Matsumoto ("Matz"), the creator of Ruby, is a professional programmer who worked for the Japanese open source company, Matz is also known as one of the open source evangelists in Japan. He's released several open source products, including cmail, the emacs-based mail user agent, written entirely in emacs lisp. Ruby is his first piece of software that has become known outside of Japan.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book lives up to the hype. This is a phenomenal book that talks about ins and outs of Ruby programming language.

I worked with Ruby and Ruby on Rails for over a year and several years of other programming languages, but I never really delved into the Ruby language itself. I was just picking up different tricks here and there along the way. I was able to get stuff done, but I felt like I was missing the big picture. This book was perfect for my need in building my Ruby understanding ground-up.

Buyer Beware!!!

This is not a beginner's book on programming. This book might not even be the best book to begin programming in Ruby. This position is clarified by Matz and Flanagan early on in the book.

"It is easy to program in Ruby, but Ruby is not a simple language. Because this book documents Ruby comprehensively, it is not a simple book (though we hope that you find it easy to read and understand). It is intended for experienced programmers who want to master Ruby and are willing to read carefully and thoughtfully to achieve that goal."

The book assumes intermediate knowledge in programming and object oriented programming in general. In order to fully appreciate the book, it's best if you are already an experience programmer.

If you are a beginner looking to get started, do not buy this book.
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Format: Paperback
"The Ruby Programming Language" is a great read. In the past, I've read Rails-specific books, and understood the basics of Ruby. However, this book introduced me to a lot of new things that I didn't know were possible with Ruby.

I'd recommend giving this book a read even if you've written full Rails apps in the past. There's lots of useful information in this book.
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A very well written book. I would say this is the perfect book for someone with at least some programming experience who wants to learn the ruby language. Novices might probably want to start with an online tutorial.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars 88 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars you better already have a lot of ruby experience Jan. 9 2014
By Jordan Barnes - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is almost painfully difficult to get through the first chapter. Terms seem to be left unexplained, and the ones he does explain won't be understood by a person who doesn't know OOP.

Blocks of code put in to give tutorials... Similar to W3schools' style, but without understanding how to compile, choose a path, download proper software without getting a virus, and understanding all the terms, a person it's pretty much blindly entering data without the copy and paste feature.

Note: the guy who invented ruby wrote this book. It is based around the C language. I'm not saying he doesn't know what he is talking about, but I'm saying this:
From a guy who is getting fairly decent with html5, JavaScript, CSS and HAS written a few small Java programs, I still find this book difficult.

From reading the first chapter, I'm left trying to find all the definitions on line and thinking JAVA and C++ will be easier to learn- even if ruby doesn't have as much syntax to worry about.

In summary- those 50 some odd people who rated this book 5 stars must already be at a software engineer/jr developer level. I'm not quite there.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not sure if this is the best book to start! Oct. 4 2009
By Fabio Utzig - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading the other reviews here. All the people I know personally who work with Ruby learned from the Pickaxe but from the reviews I came to the conclusion that this could be actually a better book for learning the language. So, I didn't read the Pickaxe and cannot really make a comparison but from what I heard and comparing with this one I would get the Pickaxe if I should choose again.

After finishing reading this book I can say that there are a lot of topics that I really don't remember anymore and lots of doubts that I still have. The major flaw here is that there are no exercises anywhere in the book. All the best programming books I read in the past have very good exercises to evaluate what you've learned (I could give as examples Learning Perl, C++ Programming Language, Core Java, etc). I think that without exercising what you learned it's really hard to judge how much you have really learned.

Another thing which is not described in the book is how to organize a big project. I'm used to working in large projects in C and C++ and I really have no idea of how to organize a large project in Ruby, how to organize classes in files, etc. I will start studying Rails now, and will get the Rails code and read it to make sense of how to organize a large project but be aware that this is not described here.

Also some sections of the book, are really "dry", like the one who talks about functional programming which is really hard to follow (this one is the first that came to my mind but there are a lot of sections which are hard to follow or don't make a lot of sense when reading first time). These sections are clearly targeted at advanced Ruby programmers.

I'll rate this book with 4 stars because despite the flaws I mentioned, the explanation of the language in general is really good.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Ruby book I've seen April 5 2008
By Jeremy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Ruby Programming Language" is everything you'd hope for from an O'Reilly book that is co-written by the language creator and the author of "Java in a Nutshell." This is a well-written, concise, and thorough guide the Ruby language.

Unlike the Pickaxe, which tries to be everything from an OOP introduction to a complete library reference, this book focuses on concisely documenting the Ruby language. If you're looking to learn how to program, look elsewhere - the Pickaxe is a much better choice. On the other hand, if you're already familiar with OOP concepts, this book (along with [...]) is all you really need to understand the language.

Of note, the book is also very current, covering both Ruby 1.8 and 1.9. As such things go, this is about as future-proof as it gets - it will remain current for years.

I can't really stress enough how well-written this book is. The authors don't overwhelm you with jargon, nor do they bury important details between fluff and analogies - I find it to be the perfect balance of density and legibility. Seldom do I find technical references such a joy to read.

In short, if you work with Ruby (or plan to in the future), you really should buy this book. You won't regret it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I expected from O'Reilly July 21 2008
By E. Kontsevoy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wish every book about a programming language was written like this one:

First, it is fairly compact and doesn't waste space (and your time) explaining to you what is a byte or a register, like some 800 page "volumes about everything" do. It correctly assumes that the reader is a programmer and explains the language, not the programming.

Second, it covers Ruby in depth. Read this book and you'll easily understand the most craziest Ruby code examples that could be found inside of Rails and other popular libraries. Moreover, I've found a few tricks in the book that I don't believe I saw in the wild.

And finally, author's language is very clean, free of buzzwords and needless repetitions. As always with O'Reilly books, this one is also very neatly structured and makes an excellent reference book.

Buy it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! April 17 2008
By Marcelo - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book (TRPL) represents a great alternative for those who are not entirely satisfied with the "Pickaxe", as it goes into much more detail in some areas of Ruby. After reading both books, my general impression is that the Pickaxe can be seen as a lighter reference and TRPL as a more in-depth description. In that sense they complement each other. Make no mistake, though: this book is not a comprehensive reference for the standard library (just as "The C programming language" is not a complete reference for the C standard library).